Christmas Books

Hampstead The Hamster

Hampstead The Hamster - Credit: Archant

Top Seven seasonal reads with Sanchita Basu de Sarkar from the Children’s Bookshop in Muswell Hill

Hampstead The Hamster

Hampstead The Hamster - Credit: Archant

In the Children’s Bookshop, we kickstarted the festive season with a day of literary events.

On a misty morning in St James Church at the heart of Muswell Hill, the historian and author Janina Ramirez thrilled us with her tales of Viking warriors and archaeological discoveries, and children were clutching their copies of her Riddle of the Runes.

This was followed by a raucous storytelling session with Michael Rosen, who regaled us with readings from his newly published books:

How Winston Delivered Christmas

How Winston Delivered Christmas - Credit: Archant

Hampstead the Hamster (Penguin) and The Unexpected Twist, is his update to Oliver Twist. Rosen’s rodent is not deliberately named after the leafy north London enclave but is christened due to an autocorrect mistake on Leo’s wishlist.

But when the young lad’s dearest dream to have a pet hamster is granted on Christmas morning, his joy turns to sorrow when he realises his new pet is miserable.

With Christmas now around the corner, many of our customers have started looking for gifts. A particularly good novel to give an eager reader is The Lost Magician by Piers Torday. (Hachette) Narnia gets a modern update in this thoughtful reworking of the classic. Four siblings are drawn into the mysterious kingdom of Folio, where its inhabitants are locked in perpetual war.

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A tale that explores bravery, betrayal, and the power of books, all spun together with Torday’s customary elegant prose.

Teenage readers will find much to savour in Nicky Singer’s Survival Game (Hachette) Set in a not-so-distant future, the heroine’s troubles and dangerous journey is strangely relevant. With lyrical prose and a political heartbeat, this is essential reading for fans of dystopian literature.

For non-fiction fans, the illustrated children’s edition of The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan (Bloomsbury) makes an ideal gift. An elegant narrative drives forward this lesser-known side of history, starting in the ancient world and ending with the modern day. The interactions between East and West over trade, politics and art make for a thought provoking read, and Neil Packer’s atmospheric illustrations make turning each page a pleasure.

Nature poems seem to fall out of the aptly-named collection I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree. (National Trust) With a poem for every day of the year, John Agard sits alongside William Wordsworth, and invites exploration of both the natural world and the written word. A glorious book, evocatively illustrated by Frann Preston Gannon.

We have also been enjoying How Winston Delivered Christmas by Alex T Smith (Pan Macmillan)- a brightly illustrated, wonderfully warm book, telling the story of Winston and his adventures in 24 1/2 chapters. Interspersed with festive activities, this is sure to become an annual favourite to share with children in the run up to Christmas.

The holiday season is the perfect time to share old favourites, and with a new film on the way, there has never been a better time to introduce children to Mary Poppins (Harper Collins). Belsize Park based Children’s Laureate Lauren Child has created a beautiful edition - filled with textured illustrations which dance over the page. Sensitively abridged, this is perfect to bring together generations of readers – which we always find is one of the loveliest experiences you can have when reading a good book.